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MANCHESTER BOLTON AND BURY CANAL

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Initiative for the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal, seems to have come from Bolton, whose citizens commissioned the 1790 surveys and estimates. More surveys were prepared by Hugh Henshall for the canal to join the Irwell. After the parliamentary survey by Charles McNiven, the Act passed in 1791 for a narrow canal to divide at Prestolee near Kearsley, one line going to Bolton, the other to Bury. Bolton was reached in October 1796 and Bury three weeks before, traffic having begun over part of the canal the previous year. The canal was not joined to the Irwell. In 1800 the Manchester, Bolton & Bury were considering an aqueduct over the Irwell to join the Rochdale. Eventually, they cut through to the river in 1808 and this completed the canal. It was 11 miles long from the Irwell to Bolton, running up the Irwell valley, the route to Bury continuing above the Irwell, 4 3/4 miles from the top of Prestolee locks, while the Bolton line ran above the Croal to extensive basins in the town. The canal became a prosperous local coal-carrying canal from the colleries at Clifton and Kearsley down to Salford and Manchester and up to mills at Bolton and Bury. Passenger services were also run, at first between Bolton and Salford, and later between Bolton and Bury. Railway competition in the 1820s saw the canal company, in 1830, promoting a railway between Bolton and Manchester to use the canal line, and by an Act of 1831 turned themselves into a railway company. The railway was authorized the following year and did not exactly follow the canal, which had to be kept and maintained. The canal suffered from subsidence in the late 1870s and in 1881 it suffered a burst at Agecroft. In 1936 there were more bad bursts, including one at Prestolee above the locks, which cut the Bury line. In 1941 the LMS closed the canal above the Clifton aqueduct through to Bolton, leaving the Bury line as an isolated waterway. The canal was completely abandoned from 1961.

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